A subsidiary of Harvard University, Harvard Business Review (HBR) is an excellent publication for entrepreneurs and those aspiring for more in the corporate world. The authors are insightful, often have real-world knowledge in the entrepreneurial and business arenas, and will get you thinking about aspects of a company that you may otherwise have ignored. When HBR came out with a series of short business-related books for sale in airport kiosks, I thought it was a brilliant idea given the valuable content their website was already publishing and its huge readership.
HBR books are focused on various daily issues entrepreneurs come across, such as stress management, maximizing organizational efficiency, leadership, how to innovate in today’s ever-evolving business world and a ton more.
A Quick & Important Read for Entrepreneurs
On my flight back from Tennessee last week I managed to crank through Heidi Grant Halvorson’s ‘9 Things Successful People Do Differently,’ published by HBR…
While the title may be as generic as an online self-help blog, this quick read was far from rudimentary. Only 100 pages, Halvorson wastes no time with long-worded tirades on trivial and phony motivational things. Instead, she focuses on the actual science and statistics of changing one’s habits in the name of being more successful. She breaks down essential daily habits of the ultra-successful, and why these routines are scientifically proven to work and change outcomes.
When discussing goals, and how to hit your targets, Halvorson explains the importance of always knowing how far you have left to go. She wrote,
“It’s just not possible to stay motivated without feedback. No one is comfortable operating in a vacuum. Fundamentally, this is a result of the way our brains are wired. We subconsciously tune in to the presence of a discrepancy between where we are now and where we want to be.
When your brain detects a discrepancy, it reacts by throwing resources at it: attention, effort, deeper processing of information, and willpower…”
Do You Exercise Your Willpower Muscle?
The ‘thing’ that resonated most with me in Heidi Grant Halvorson’s ‘9 Things Successful People Do Differently’ was the importance of building your willpower muscle…
She explains how “your self-control “muscle” is just like the other muscles in your body; when it doesn’t get much exercise, it becomes weaker over time. But when you give it regular workouts by putting it to good use, it will grow stronger and stronger, and better able to help you successfully reach your goals…”
Halvorson stresses the importance of sometimes exercising your willpower merely for the sake of exercising it. It needs to be tested and strengthened over time, and consistently. Just for the sake of exercise, try going two days without a coffee. Go two weeks without liquor or desert – whatever your guilty pleasure may be.
A strong-willed person is likely to earn more money than a weak-willed individual. They are also more likely to establish a balanced life and be generally happier.
Importantly, Halvorson also explains the importance of not depleting your willpower muscle. When you’ve tested it extensively, give it a breather to avoid snapping and going on an erratic binge. People tend to do that when they’ve pushed their willpower beyond a reasonable level. They succumb to a moment of almost uncontrollable weakness.
In a way, I’m a personal improvement junkie. I’m regularly looking for ways to improve many aspects of my life, be it as a parent, entrepreneur, husband and inhabitant of this earth. That said, I’ve grown weary of the self-help style books for entrepreneurs. They’re redundant in many cases, and some of the authors aren’t exactly the type of people I aspire to be like. However, Heidi Grant Halvorson hits the mark with ‘9 Things Successful People Do Differently.’ It’s a quick and easy read that’s loaded with real data to back up her theories and case studies. Moreover, her ideas and practices can be applied tomorrow. It’s a light read perfect for the beach or airplane, timely given spring break is right around the corner.
PS – Entrepreneurship is about continual improvement. I share what has helped my entrepreneurial game over the years in my weekly newsletter. Subscribe for free below. Only my best content will land in your inbox.